United States and Cuba Meet to Discuss Immigration Issues and Detained American Citizen
February 22, 2010 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — U.S. and Cuban officials held talks in Havana over the weekend that focused on improving government regulation of immigration between the two countries.
The meeting was part of a dialogue that resumed between the two countries after a six-year hiatus, when the Bush administration froze contacts with Cuba.
Previously the two countries met twice every year to discuss immigration and citizens leaving Cuba for the U.S.
The talks were overshadowed by the tension from Cuba detaining an American citizen, Alan Gross, on charges of subversive activities.
Gross, 60, was detained in early December after Cuban officials accused him of distributing satellite communications gear to Cuban government opponents.
Development Alternatives Inc., the Maryland company that Gross works for, said he was in Cuba to set up an internet system for a religious organization and under a U.S. funded program to promote democracy in Cuba.
U.S. officials asked for Gross’ release during the meetings, but Cuban officials were angered by the U.S. using the visit to meet with suspected dissidents.
“This offensive conduct . . . exposes the [U.S.] lack of real willingness to improve ties with our country,” said the Cuban Foreign Relations Ministry in a statement reprinted by Cuban state media.
The conflicts notwithstanding, officials from both governments said that the talks were positive.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- For the first time, the U.S. Border Patrol and Mexican police have begun training together in Arizona as part of a plan to cooperate to enforce immigration laws and fight drug trafficking on the border.
- Ten people were killed by gunmen over the weekend in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.
- Critics of Mexico’s drug war say that the Calderón government favors the Sinaloa cartel.
- None of the children that a group of Baptists attempted to take from Haiti to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic were orphans, an Associated Press investigation finds.
- The Associated Press analyzes what the reliance on the low-paying garment industry might mean for Haiti’s future.
- Former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo is in a military hospital after experiencing respiratory problems. Portillo faces extradition to the United States on money laundering charges.
- 29 countries restored ties with Honduras, which were severed after last summer’s coup that ousted then-President Manuel Zelaya.
- The lawyers for former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to block his extradition to France on charges that he laundered drug money in the country.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that his country is contemplating a proposal from Colombia to supply Venezuela with electricity and sell the country power turbines from General Electric.
- Cattle ranchers in Venezuela voiced concern over President Hugo Chavez’s peasant-based militias, citing fears of confrontation between the militias and ranchers as a main fear.
- An Argentine soccer player was cut on his neck with a broken jug and taken to the hospital after being attacked in a restaurant in the Amazonian city of Iquitos, Peru.
- Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa cited his country’s relations with Iran for Ecuador’s inclusion on a list of countries failing to comply with international regulations against money laundering and supporting terrorism.
- Hugo Chávez called on the British to return the Falkland Islands to Argentina. Britain and Argentina have become embroiled in a diplomatic conflict over the islands, which Argentina claims, since the British went forward with plans to drill for oil there.
- Argentine hackers broke into the Falkland Islands newspaper Penguin New and posted reasons why the Islands should belong to Argentina rather than Britain.
- President of Chile Michelle Bachelet visited Haiti for seven hours over the weekend, where she met with representatives of womens’ organizations. Bachelet recently became the spokeswoman for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
- Dengue fever is on the rise in Brazil and northern Argentina.
- The governing Workers’ Party (PT, in Portuguese) of Brazil nominated Lula da Silva’s Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff as their presidential candidate for next October’s elections.